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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

NJ Can Limit Gun Owners to One a Month

(CN) - The 3rd Circuit upheld New Jersey's so-called One Gun Law, which prohibits the purchase or sale of more than one handgun per person per month, including BB and air guns.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs Inc. and the Glassboro, N.J.-based firarms dealer Bob's Little Sport Shop had challenged the law alongside several individuals including World War II veteran Kaare Johnson.

In addition to claiming federal pre-emption under Section 5001(g)(ii), the gun advocates challenged the difficulty in qualifying for a One Gun Law exemption.

A federal judge ultimately dismissed the claims against defendants that elected not to settle, and the Philadelphia-based federal appeals court affirmed last week.

"Section 5001(g)(ii) provides that states cannot prohibit the sale of BB and air guns," Judge Dolores Sloviter wrote for a three-judge panel. "However, it does not bar states from regulating the sale of BB and air guns in any way. The One Gun Law restricts the sale of these guns to one per person per month, and allows applications for exemptions from this restriction. It is evident that this is not a complete prohibition. Nor is this restriction so onerous as to be a de facto prohibition."

The court also rejected claims against the applications needed to receive a One Gun Law exemption.

"Appellants state that these forms frustrate the purpose of the exemptions by requiring applicants to identify the particular handguns they wish to purchase," according to the eight-page ruling. "However, as the District Court pointed out, the exemption provision of the One Gun Law itself requires applicants to identify the particular handguns they wish to purchase. The implementing forms do not add further requirements that are so onerous as to deprive appellants of any property interest they may have in the exemptions."

Claims under the due process clause failed, as well.

"We conclude that the implementation of the One Gun Law's exemptions does not violate due process," Sloviter wrote. "It is not necessary for us to determine whether appellants have a property interest in the exemptions. Even if appellants have a property interest, they do not demonstrate a deprivation of that interest."

Having dispatched those issues, the lower court properly declined jurisdiction over the state-law claims, according to the appellate ruling.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs describes itself as a nonprofit dedicated to aiding - "in every way within its power" - "target shooters, hunters, competitors, outdoors people and other law-abiding firearms owners."

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